On a night of high school baseball unity, it was fitting that the evening ended with the Mattituck and Southold teams lining up together on the field near home plate for postgame photos. It was a show of unity, unity for a greater cause than merely winning a game.
That unifying theme centered around the player of the night. Dylan Newman wore No. 5 on the back of his jersey and batted sixth in the order, but was No. 1 in the hearts of the many who turned out for Friday night’s non-league game at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. The game was a fundraiser to help Newman in his battle against Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer he was first diagnosed with in 2018. He has been undergoing his third round of treatment, but that hasn’t kept him off the ball field. Newman said he has missed only one game this season.
The turnout indicated Newman may have the biggest fan club in the town, which has embraced him during this difficult time.
“It was amazing,” he said after Mattituck’s 11-2 win in the final regular-season game for both teams.
Newman’s father, Todd, said: “Well, we had to change the plan because another curveball was thrown at us so now we’re doing another chemo and another round of something else to get this done. You know, it’s been four years of different stuff popping up, you know, but you know what? He gets after it. He inspires me. He’s my hero, 100 percent my hero.”
Todd Newman, his wife, Tanya, and their daughter, Kelsey, watched as Dylan received the loudest ovations of the night when his name was announced as he stepped into the batter’s box. Newman played third base. In his three at-bats, he struck out twice before drawing a walk.
Brendan Duffy, who scored both of Southold’s runs, one on his sixth home run of the season, grew up with Newman. Asked to describe what the night was like, Duffy said, “It was just about the whole North Fork community coming together and supporting one of our own, really.”
Duffy said: “Everyone loves him and like one thing I personally really admire is his perseverance with everything. And he’s just like so strong and just his commitment to this program, like coming to practice after being in the city all day [for treatment]. I really admire what he goes through. And he just puts everything out on the field, too.”
Newman serves as inspiration to his teammates.
“How can he not be?” asked Southold coach Greg Tulley.
Mattituck (9-9, 8-9 Suffolk County League VII) rang up four runs in the top of the first inning. The game’s second batter, Mike Mowdy, clocked a home run over the leftfield fence and the Tuckers were off and running. Mowdy also had a single, walked twice, scored three runs and stole two bases.
Garrett Grathwohl delivered three RBIs on a night when he had an RBI single, a triple, a sacrifice fly and a walk. Bryce Hansen walked twice and had two RBIs. Leadoff hitter Brady Mahon scored three runs, walked twice and stole three bases.
James Reidy (2-2) allowed three hits and one run over five innings, striking out seven. He walked three. Micky Kalich and Mowdy each handled an inning to close out the game.
Luke Newman, Dylan Newman’s cousin, had two hits, including an RBI single for Southold (15-4, 15-4 League VIII). The loss snapped Southold’s nine-game win streak.
“When we win, we don’t make errors in the field, but when we lose is when we make errors,” said Duffy, whose team made three errors.
Newman was given celebrity treatment. After the game, The Suffolk Times presented him with its 2021 Sports Person of the Year plaque and he autographed baseballs for youngsters.
“I thought it was cool with everyone here,” he said. “It’s kind of nerve-racking.”
Asked what the night was like for him, Todd Newman answered: “Overwhelming. It’s overwhelming for me and for him. I just told him just to soak it up. When we started in 2018, I said it takes an army, and we got an army and the army has not stopped fighting for us and he hasn’t stopped fighting this cancer.”
“I just want to thank the community for everything they do. Everything,” he continued. “I couldn’t do without it, to be honest with you. This battle is a battle and we’re in it to win it. This community is amazing, to say the least, and I’m grateful I live where I live.”